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5 Best Bike Locks For 2015 | Reviews, Tips and Rationale

Updated on February 2, 2015
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Bicycle Lock Reviews: Five Good Choices For 2015

So what is the best bike lock on the market today? Ask this simple question and you're likely to get a lot of different answers. The thing is, not all bike locks are the same. What's more, they are not all are equal either. Choosing the right one for you is an important decision to ponder: it could be the difference between having to replace your bike or not.

There are a lot of locks out there that vie for the title of the 'unbreakable bike lock'. Unfortunately, that's not a realistic thing. The fact is all locks and chains have some sort of vulnerability, and a determined thief can get through just about anything. The important thing is to make sure they don't have an easy time of it. The best bicycle locks act more as a deterrent: thieves take one look and decide to move on to easier pickings.

This article will attempt to answer the question, what is the best bicycle lock? First we'll take a look at the common vulnerabilities of the typical bike lock system, and how thieves break them apart. Then we will take a look at a few examples of what I consider to be the best bicycle locks, with reviews of each one.

How Do Thieves Do It? Common Vulnerabilities in Bicycle Locks:

Even the best bicycle locks with great reviews have serious vulnerabilities. Each time an innovation is made, thieves figure out a great way to bust it apart. The best we can hope for is to make the theft as unappealing as possible. Here is a list of common that even the best bicycle locks tend to have.

  • The Bottle Jack Breakage:

    A common trick used by bike thieves is to use leverage to bust even the strongest bicycle locks apart, using a compact bottle jack. These jacks are intended to lift up a vehicle in a pinch, so they're certainly strong enough to compromise a small U-lock. How can you defend against this attack? Choose a lock with a smaller circumference, or attach it in a place that makes such breakage difficult.

  • The Bolt-Cutter:

    What better to cut through a cheap bicycle lock than a good set of bolt cutters? These tools are perfect for snipping through even the thickest cable locks, and serious bike thieves always carry a pair. A good set can even snip through a cheaper u-lock. The best defense? Read bike lock reviews and pick out one that has high quality, hardened steel and can withstand a bolt cutter attack.

  • The Angle Grinder:

    Unfortunately, the angle grinder is just about the perfect tool for any professional bicycle thief. They can zip through just about any type of metal in minutes. Even the best bicycle locks on the market can be cut in under 5 minutes with even an inexpensive, battery powered angle grinder. The good news? They are very loud, and create a lot of sparks, so unless you're parking your bicycle overnight, chances are a theft won't happen during daylight hours.

Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboutit: A super strong, 'New York' style bicycle lock

The Fahgettaboutit bicycle lock is a newer entry into the market, but it has become really popular very quickly, for good reason. It's one of the best bicycle locks, with positive reviews from many sources.

The lock utilizes super hardened steel that's super resistant to hacksaw, bolt cutters, crowbar and other leverage based attacks. It also utilizes a hardened steel sleeve around the lock mechanism itself, which would otherwise be a vulnerable area. The long and short of it is that they're not an unbreakable bicycle lock, but they're extremely difficult to crack, and that's a deterrent.

One really nice thing about this lock in particular is its (relatively) small size. It doesn't give thieves much room to work, and there isn't really much space to get a cutting tool in there if you affix it properly. There is a larger version, if you need the extra space. I highly recommend the Kryptonite Fahgettaboutit bike lock, it's one of the best choices out there.

Master Lock 8200D Street Cuffs Lock, 12-inch
Master Lock 8200D Street Cuffs Lock, 12-inch

Handcuff inspired bicycle lock system, one of the better bicycle locks for 2012. Hardened steel, easy to lock up, easy to store.

 

Master Lock Street Cuffs: A super strong locking system for your bike

A 'handcuff' inspired bicycle lock system, perfect for parking meters

The Master Lock Street Cuffs are a unique design based on a common one. The dual handcuff system is actually ideal for many bikes and situations. The lock itself consists of hardened steel chain links that are extremely hard to break apart. The cuffs themselves are also hardened and laminated, and can withstand a hacksaw or cutters very easily.

The really nice thing about the Master Lock Street Cuffs? They are really portable, and they'll fit in a backpack a lot easier than your typical u-lock. They only weigh a couple of pounds and they come with a $3,500 theft protection.

These are among the best bicycle locks for 2013 and 2014, and they're funny to show off to your friends!

Kryptonite 999485 Black 14mm x 39" (1410) New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and New York Disc Lock
Kryptonite 999485 Black 14mm x 39" (1410) New York Fahgettaboudit Chain and New York Disc Lock

A chain lock system is one of the best bicycle locks out there, because they are very hard to cut though. This is a great example of one.

 

Kryptonite Fahgettaboutit Chain Bicycle Lock - An incredibly tough & strong bicycle chain lock from a great company.

If you're trying to figure out what is the best (strongest) bicycle lock, you'll probably want to look at a chain system. The nice thing about chains is they are very portable, very strong and among the most resistant to attacks.

Even an angle grinder has difficulty cutting through one of these things, simply because the individual links don't hold steady while cutting. It's also tough to get a crowbar in there, and a hacksaw, bottle jack or set of bolt cutters is essentially useless against a hardened steel chain like this.

This particular one reviews extremely well, and is one of the best bicycle locks on the market today. Sure it's big and heavy, but it serves as a major deterrent for a would-be bike thief: this one is among the best and strongest bike locks in stores today.

Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 Standard Bicycle U-Lock with Bracket (4-Inch x 9-Inch)
Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 Standard Bicycle U-Lock with Bracket (4-Inch x 9-Inch)

Very strong hardened steel, 9 inches long so it's good for larger frames with thick tubing, theft protection guarantee.

 

Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 Standard Bicycle U-Lock

One of the best bicycle locks for 2013 & 2014

I know, a lot of Kryptonite stuff in this article huh? There's a reason for that.

The Kryptonite Evolution u-lock is a great option for anyone needing a really strong and high quality 'full-sized' bicycle lock. It's about 9 inches long, so it's definitely big enough to handle frames with wider tubing or bike racks that require extra clearance.

The steel is 14mm thick and super hardened steel, so nothing short of an angle grinder or full blown acetylene torch will get through it. It has a double deadbolt pin system, and it locks from the center, meaning it has very few vulnerabilities from picking or shimming. It even comes with a $2,250 theft protection guarantee. It's one of the best bicycle locks for 2013 / 2014, and it's inexpensive, so it's worth checking out.

OnGuard Pitbull STD U-Lock, Black, 4.53 x 9.06-Inch
OnGuard Pitbull STD U-Lock, Black, 4.53 x 9.06-Inch

High quality steel is almost invulnerable to hacksaws and bolt cutters. If you're trying to figure out what is the best bike lock, this is a good place to start.

 

OnGuard Pitbull: An inexpensive, strong bicycle lock with excellent reviews

The OnGuard Pitbull U-Lock is one of the best bike locks for 2013, and it review really well all over the place. The reason? It utilizes superior hardened steel that makes cutting with a hacksaw or bolt cutters just about impossible. 5 minutes with a hacksaw barely made a dent in the metal. The only viable way to get through this one is with an angle grinder, and even that took a long time.

It also has a really great lock mechanism, so you can attach or detach it easily without a lot of fiddling, saving you time. The mounting hardware isn't bad either, with it's quick release system for easy access. On the whole this is a very capable and strong cycle lock that has everything you should be looking for.

What is NOT The Best Bike Lock? - Ones to avoid:

In the biking world, there are always cheaper, less expensive items out there. Sometimes you can get a bargain, but sadly, in the case of the bicycle lock, sometimes the item turns out to be a cheap waste of money. A cheap bicycle lock may seem like a good idea, and there are certainly some good deals out there, but do consider the replacement cost of your bike; a good lock is priceless.

  1. Cable Locks:

    This is the first item on my list, and should be heeded above all other advice: cable locks are no good. I've yet to see a cable lock that can't be cut through in 10 seconds with a set of bolt cutters. Many will claim to be the best bike lock, review well and cost very little. However, you should never use a cable setup as your 'primary' lock. They are far more vulnerable, and a professional bike thief will have no problems nabbing your ride if you use one of these.

  2. Low Quality Metal:

    Cheaper bicycle locks will often compromise by using low quality metals. Only a high quality, hardened steel lock should be used (or a stronger metal). Low quality steel can be cut through like butter if you have the right tools. A hacksaw is the tool of choice for many a bike thief. Most mid-to-high quality bike locks will consist of strong, hardened steel; a hacksaw will hardly mar the surface of a good one.

  3. Lots of Room:

    It seems funny, but the best bicycle locks with good reviews often end up being smaller in circumference. Why? Because there's less room for a potential bike thief to work in. If there's a smaller circumference to a U-lock, it's harder to get a cutting tool or bottle jack in there to break or cut it. It's a good idea to choose a lock that's nice and snug to your frame, if possible.

Other good bicycle locks are available

What is the best bicycle lock?

Here are some more options for you. If you're looking outside my list, I recommend reading lots of reviews. See what other buyers think of the product, and whether or not the lock has stood up to the test of usage. Higher ratings are always a good sign.

A bicycle is always a lot more expensive than a little lock, so you'll want to keep your ride safe.

Ever had a bicycle stolen? How did it happen?

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      christineallen 3 years ago

      I was using a cable lock (never again) and suddenly there my bike wasn't. Amazingly enough the police contacted me about a week later and said they thought they had recaptured my bike while being ridden by a 'habitual villain' !! So I got it back, minus the bell and one of the handlebar grips - and the lock.

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      I made the mistake of using a $20 cable lock. However I caught the thief just as he snipped the cable. I jumped on his back and restrained him until the police arrived. It was in broad daylight in one of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago with a half dozen people standing around. I my bike was locked to a street post 20 ft down a side street off a major thoroughfare. The thief had lowered my bike flat on the ground and crouched down over it with his back to the major thoroughfare to hide what he was doing. He had a small bag which was large enough for his bolt cutters, along with few other items, and I noticed he had a cheap cell phone with headphones wrapped around and plugged into it. Why would you leave headphones purposefully plugged into a cell phone, youâd never hear it ring? Most likely this was a burner phone to call his accomplices or his fence once he had the bike free and clear.

      Iâm not making the same lock mistake again which is why I came across this article. I have a $1,300 bike, so $100 on Fahgettaboutit chain lock is probably worth it.

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      joanride 3 years ago

      Thanks. I have a U lock. I find it inconvenient to open and close, but it does the job. I did not know about the other types you've mentioned.

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